SEOUL, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- South Korea and Japan will begin talks on pacts for closer cooperation between their military forces, their defense ministers said.
The agreement was announced Monday after a meeting between Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan Jin in Seoul, a Kyodo News story appearing in Japan Times said.
The two officials met amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula that escalated after November's shelling by North Korea of a South Korean island and the Communist country's nuclear threats.
Kyodo quoted Kitazawa as telling reporters he and Kim agreed to start discussing a pact for mutual supply provision between Japan's Self-Defense Force troops and Korea's military. Another pact would seek to prevent leaks of military information.
The report said the first pact would deal with an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement for reciprocal provision of supplies, such as food, water and fuel, and services between their forces when conducting joint activities. The report said Japan has similar accords with the United States and Australia, and South Korea with the United States.
The two ministers also agreed to hold regular talks at ministerial and vice ministerial levels once a year.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency, quoting the South Korean defense ministry, said: "The ministers agreed that a series of provocative acts by North Korea, including its shelling attack on Yeonpyeong Island and disclosure of a uranium enrichment facility, severely hamper peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia and agreed to closely cooperate on the issue."
Xinhua said the talks follow the recent high-profile visit to Seoul by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who called for greater cooperation among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.